Club Katze is the only game in the series which I actually play, so I can’t make a comparison to the other 2 games… I did find a review which did, however. My review will be based on only Club Katze itself.
…it’s a pretty fun game. Actually, more than fun, I’d describe it as amusing.
Main character is your standard otome game heroine. …couldn’t tell anything about her personality that she might well be a ghost. I think they’re aiming for that player-as-the-main-character angle… in which case they succeeded. The main character had a standard response to any event… getting embarassed when getting teased, getting confused when the guy started avoiding her etc… the good thing is, to any of the event, her reactions’ only 2-3 sentences… not enough for any personality to be formed, and not enough to obstruct the player-as-main-character feel.
The story… since the basic premise itself was pretty simple, the story was also simple… you don’t get any convoluted plot or unanswered questions, it’s mostly just seeing how the relationship develop between the guy and the heroine. Will you be able to understand it if your grasp of Japanese isn’t very good? …most of the time, yes. I know I missed bits and pieces of the story because I couldn’t understand the words, but still managed to understand the big picture of what’s happening. I think it also depends on the character… Asato, for example, his conversations were pretty easy to understand. The ones whose route I found to be the more difficult to understand were Rei and Hiiragi. Rei because of his conversation topics… I simply didn’t understand, and Hiiragi due to the way he spoke (or to say, the words he chose to use…).
The art style is one thing I really liked. It didn’t look like your standard anime style… and it’s probably one drawing style where I actually didn’t mind a goatee. However, the quality seemed to vary… generally the paper dolls (the characters when they talk to you on-screen) looked very polished. But few of the event CGs just looked… odd. Other than that… everything was well polished. Each guy had a different room (for background picture) which fit their personalities, and their casual clothes changed as the season changed… down to the jacket they wore. And the paper dolls didn’t just have 1 body pose, which was a plus.
Seiyuu was awesome 😀 And all dialogues in the game was fully voiced. And once more, about seiyuu, everyone fit their characters very well especially Hiiragi and it’s not just because I like Suwabe Junichi.
Music was good. Not as varied as Garnet Cradle, but it fitted the atmosphere very well. Since the setting was a host club, the music tended to be rather jazzy…? Lounge-style kind of music… can’t quite categorise it… it’s a pleasure to listen to though. …am thinking of buying the OST CD, just… just so I can hear the songs they sing without having to turn on my PSP… too bad the only CD that’s out for this game doesn’t contain the BGM music.
Gameplay can get rather repetitive, but once you’re able to skip all previously-seen events, each route should take you around 3 hours. Every weekend you set up your schedule for the coming week, setting what activity you’d do for each day of the week to raise your parameters. You need to max out certain parameters for each guy, and you’d also need to balance your time and not just increase your stats… need to remember to visit the guy at the host club to increase his affection. Also, this was one game where you didn’t need to worry about money. …it seemed like the heroine just randomly got money out of the ether… All the routes sort of took a certain pattern, which might be tiresome to some people. In-game time ran for 1 year. The first 5-6 months would be filled with general events (events which happened regardless on whose route you’re on), the next 3-4 months just getting to know the guy better (and general events no longer happening), and the last 3-4 months some sort of issue/problem would come up and get solved.
System-wise, you can replay events from the game… but only the ones that had a CG. For events which had no CG, well… you just have to create a save file to view it again, I guess. Also, not sure about the PS2 version, but the PSP version offered the capability to take a screenshot of the CG when you’re in the CG recollection mode. …it’s the only reason I managed to put up pictures here… When you managed to get all of the CG for a particular character you’ll unlock that character’s slidehow mode. It’s basically a slideshow of all of his CGs, but with added comments from the character himself. Also, as part of the recollection mode, you can listen to the character’s song, a function I’m very grateful for (…still couldn’t stop listening to Hiiragi’s song, “GAME”…).
Overall, the first time I played it felt very strange… for a start, there would be events like Valentine’s day, main character’s birthday, the guy’s birthday, Christmas, Halloween… but you spent all of them going to the host club. My thought was something like, “Oh hey, it’s Valentine’s day! Wonder what event… oh, she just spends it at the host club with the guy.” Repeat that thought for all of the events I mentioned above with the exception of New Year. And it’s the same for all of the characters, so the repetitiveness of it… might annoy you. Other than that, I can understand the main character’s confusion… the moment the guy liked the heroine enough to confess that he liked her, the heroine’s first reaction was always “is he saying that as a host, or for real?”. In her shoes… yea, would probably be similarly suspicious. While playing the game I actually thought a lot about host clubs, and was very close to writing a long post on it… but then I thought, really, this blog isn’t for that… (or at least, I don’t intend it to be…)
In summary, a pretty fun game to play. Just don’t get your hopes high in the plot department and start playing with zero expectation. Once I was able to skip all of the general scenes I’d seen before, each guy’s route took me around 3 hours to clear. So… not bad.