REVIEW: A Wild Catgirl Appears!

Monday, January 11th, 2016

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The story is pretty barebones. We follow Ami, a high school senior who suddenly finds that she has to join an after school club by order of “The stupid –  I mean student council…” Yes, that’s an actual line in the story, see below. Ami is an otaku whose only interest is in anime and anime-related music. Also, her parents aren’t around… because. As such, she is hesitant to join any club for fear of not fitting in. She eventually decides to join the Coding Club in hopes of being able to ditch if no one is really committed to the club. There she befriends Lise who is the only other member of the club and the two quickly become friends, deciding to make a game with Lise coding and Ami doing the artwork. Eventually, the two decide to create A Wild Catgirl Appears! version of an amiibo for their game. The amiibo doesn’t work at first, but lo and behold the next morning Ami wakes up to find Starla, the character she created is in her bed. Also, Ami is a closet lesbian. If you think I’m relegating that to a footnote, don’t worry. The game did, as well. We’ll come back to that later, but, first, let’s talk about writing tropes and their use.

A Wild Catgirl Appears! | The Stupid Council?

Yes, Ria just said that. I really wish I had images of my reactions to a lot of these lines.

Normally I’d pick apart the characters here, but they all have the same problem. They all seem to be based off of one or two tropes. This isn’t a bad thing if you know how to utilize said tropes properly. A Wild Catgirl Appears!, however, does not. It feels like it’s written by someone who knows of anime tropes, but doesn’t know why they work. Let’s take a look at Ria, for example, who is Mia’s best friend and obviously has a crush on her. Ria is based on the tsundere archetype. She certainly fits the very basics of the archetype, as she hides her embarrassment by being antagonistic towards Mia at times. OK, that’s pretty basic. The problem is that there’s no off switch for this mode. She’s either a jerk or she’s embarrassed. To understand the problem, you need to know a little bit about Japanese society. In Japan, even being slightly out of what is considered the norm is embarrassing; it’s taboo. Thus, one can argue the Tsundere type exists to emulate a person who is struggling to keep their distance, socially and emotionally, from a person and, thus, resorts to using her tsuntsun (harsh) personality to do so, the deredere (sweet) side coming out in moments of weakness. Ria does this, but, as I mentioned, she’s in this mode all the time. Even the most tsuntsun of characters will have varying degrees of that side of them. Noire from Neptunia, for example, is almost always in her tsuntsun state, but you still feel depth from her. She’s not one dimensional. Aya from Kiniro Mozaic is another good example. She tends to resort to tsuntsun in order to cover her embarrassment in regards to her feelings for Yoko. Ria doesn’t do this. This problem also extends into one Mia’s traits; the parents that are never home.

A Wild Catgirl Appears! | Ria's Personality

Ria’s only even in tsuntsun or deredere mode. There is no in-between or depth to her and it makes her feel more like a jerk than anything else.

It’s established early on that Mia’s parents don’t live at home due to work. We’re reminded of this two more times. Once, to say they went off to another country for another month. Then again to inform us they’ll be gone another three months. There is such a thing as screwing over a character far too much. It doesn’t make me feel sympathetic, it makes me wonder why no one else has taken her in to raise her. The trope exists mainly to explain why a character lives alone. It can be used as a point of empathy, but it’s main purpose is to allow an otherwise impossible plot to continue. Suspension of Disbelief doesn’t work if the author constantly reminds us of the thing we’re supposed to suspending our disbelief about.  Lastly, we need to address the issue of the theme — is this really a Yuri-flavored game?

A Wild Catgirl Appears! | Ami's Secret

Which would be a really great dilemma and plot point if it ever amounted to anything.

Technically, yes it is. We are told early on that Mia is a closet lesbian. That she fears revealing her sexuality to others. This makes for a good plot, except nothing is done with it. Mia never really seems to struggle with this and never really shows any interest in any of the other girls until the very end of the game. As much as I hate to say it, the other girls really exist as nothing more than the reward at the end. Ria is obviously struggling with her feelings for Mia, but is made to be more of a jerk than anything else. Lise seems shy and lonely, but we barely see her outside of her ending, so we don’t get to see how Mia being around affects her. Starla gets most of the screen time and her main gimmick is having to be told about the world around her. Even Eiko, the new character for this build, is barely used. In fact, she completely disappears from A Wild Catgirl Appears! if you don’t head down her route, as she wasn’t integrated into the other endings at all. In contrast, A Kiss For The Petals: Remembering How We Met may have been a kinetic novel with an obvious outcome, but we saw character growth and development. We saw Risa and Miya interact, flirt, and get to know each other. There was depth and meaning to the relationship and the struggles that took place in making it. So, is this a Yuri? By basic definition, yes, but it lacks any of the charm or depth that even basic dating sims and romance-themed games have. I’ve spent more than enough time deconstructing this one, let’s wrap this up with my final recommendation.

A Wild Catgirl Appears! | Lise Accepting Ami's Confession

Is this a Yuri? Only in the sense that it ends in a relationship between two women. It really isn’t the focus here.

A Wild Catgirl Appears! is nothing more than a prototype. It was a project put together during a game jam, and, instead of taking that prototype and refining it into a good product, the developer merely threw it out the door in hopes to make a few bucks. Even at $0.99, I wouldn’t recommend this, let alone the $2.99 that it’s asking. If you’re like me and you’re looking for something Yuri related to enjoy, go watch Strawberry Panic!, Symphogear, or Kiniro Mozaic. Go read Poor Poor Lips. Go play A Kiss For The Petals: Remembering How We Met, or take a look at any of the other projects on the Yuri Game Jam page. Find one that interests you and leave the developer some honest feedback. You’re even supporting independent developers by doing so. However, if a wild catgirl should appear, ignore it and, hopefully, it will go away.

A Wild Catgirl Appears! | What Are You Doing?

I think that sums up this game perfectly. 2016 isn’t off to the greatest of starts, but it can only get better from here. Until next time, everyone!

Review Score

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About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.

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