Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s Review – No Panty is Safe

    Title: Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s
    Developer: Ascension Dream
    Release Date: Jan 17, 2019
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Ascension Dream
    Genre: Adventure Visual Novel

It’s no surprise that a lot of the best anime features came out of the 90s. Shows like Cowboy Bebop and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing still hold my interest to this day. However, this style of animation has evolved over the years and the anime today is definitely not what I had growing up.

Well, developer Ascension Dream has released their new adventure visual novel Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s as an ode to the 90’s animation paired with a focus on the lewdest object: Panties. What Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s brings to the visual novel community is as unique as it is abstract and although these features make the game overall good, it turns out that hunting for panties is easier said than done.

Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s has players assume the role of Kenji Kojima, a normal college student who is trying to make ends meet as well as fall in love. Thankfully for him, these two goals connect in a pretty outrageous way. Basically, Kenji advertises himself through word of mouth as a “Jack of all Trades”. People contact him for help with stuff they need such as handy work around the house or virus removal, you know, small tasks that a Jack of all Trades would be great for. Evidently, Kenji has another skill, he can tell what a girl is like based on her panties. This boils down to him looking at their color, pattern, and style. He uses this information to find true love and a woman that he is most compatible with.

The premise is insane in concept, but it doesn’t really play out the way you’d think based on the subject matter. In terms of concept this game is extremely vanilla and focuses mainly on interacting with the girls. I was kind of let down by this because although you can find panties around the room and Kenji is eagerly reminding the player that he is looking for them, they aren’t really necessary to get to the true ending. Furthermore, the more interesting parts of the game are hidden behind a super complex series of searching and events, which makes you beg for a walkthrough.

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Gameplay has the player choose a girl, with more unlocked after you find the true ending and a number of panties. The girl will let you know her problem and you will make a note to fix it, that is after you think of ways to get her out of the room so that you can search for her panties. However, these panties aren’t easy to find and one missed step will resort in a bad ending, which there are plenty of. More often than not, the path you take will lead to a bad ending. These are generally pretty funny, but some can feel a little out there without context such as sitting on a chair and dying.

Exploring the room is done by clicking on objects and using items from your inventory to help you out. For example, finding panties can be as easy as grabbing a screwdriver to unlock a drain that contains a handle, which is used to gain access to a drawer that has, you guessed it, panties. However, panties aren’t always found in straight forward ways like this, some are found by clicking on a mirror several times, which makes you wonder if you would have done that if you didn’t read it in a walkthrough. I feel like the developer was hoping that players would discuss what to do in message boards as they banned together to solve these puzzles, but it fails to make the player feel encouraged to even continue because progressing the narrative can be as cryptic as changing the channel to 69 to unlock a new event. Although that’s pretty funny, I don’t know if anyone would do this without being told.

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The events unlocked throughout the game has probably some of the best writing the game has to offer and its shame that some of them are hidden in impossible to discover places. Each girl has a past that can be explored in these events. They are usually fairly serious in tone and detail the girl’s past relationships and how they got to where they are now. I ended up really liking these scenes as well as the stories that they told because it made the female characters in the game more relatable and showed a side of them that you won’t really see while you’re searching for their panties.

Similarly, the ending of the game is also pretty great. The group goes to hot springs to hang out and spend time together. This is where the game truly feels like a visual novel and shows what the developer is capable of when they aren’t shoehorning in point and click adventure mechanics. Although some of the time the trial and error approach to getting through each of these girl’s routes is fun, it gets shadowed by what the developer can do with a more straightforward visual novel format. What’s worse is that this part of the game is locked until all 3 true endings are reached.

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Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s has a number of glitches and typos that I found throughout my time playing. Sometimes the menu wouldn’t work properly or the game would say I didn’t have an item when I knew that I did. Also, I’ve attempted multiple times, but one of the panties in Chapter 1 seems to be impossible to get and wouldn’t unlock, even with the help of a guide. Also, some of the text just doesn’t flow correctly which makes conversations feel a bit awkward.

Those issues aside, Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s has some gorgeous background and character illustrations. The game truly captures this art style and portrays it beautifully. Furthermore, the soundtrack is great to the point where I could listen to it and just leave it on while I go do something else because it sets a mood that could only be described as “Cool”. The girl’s English audio is also pretty great and unexpected. However, the timing that the girl’s audio plays don’t match with their text meaning you’ll probably read through the text long before the audio comes in.

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Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s has the aesthetic of a visual novel that I’ve always wanted to play. The developer did a great job creating this totally bonkers premise and putting together a fairly interesting adventure. If you’re going into the game to see some extremely lewd panty action, then you should look elsewhere. Outside of illustrated panties, the game is very tame with it imagery and the girls are always fully clothed.

Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s is a great title to play if you have the time to put into it or if you’re into these types of adventure games. I suggest playing each level until you can’t figure it out and then look to the guide that the developers shared. The game has its fair share of issues, but I couldn’t help but love this design direction. True, this game is not perfect by any means, but I’m totally on board for whatever this team has coming out next.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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