Title: WanNyan ☆ à la mode!
Release Date: September 3, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Visual Novel
Approaching nukiges from a critical eye isn’t the easiest thing to do because it is pretty much porn for anime nerds. So, when it comes to the SkyFish-developed visual novel WanNyan à la mode! Which Girl Will You Choose? An Erotic Cat & Dog Café Experience!, I don’t think I need to tell you what you are about to experience. However, when it comes to these types of games, WanNyan à la mode! has an added layer of quality that makes it stand out in the sea of other titles.
WanNyan à la mode has a story, and there’s quite a bit here. Is it of any real substance? Well, no, but it’s more than what I’m used to. As the faceless male protagonist, players take on the role of a baker, Yanushi Kenta, who has entered a baking exam with six other female candidates. Interestingly, the story skips the introductions for the most part because each of the girls already knows the protagonist, and he’s on reasonably good terms with them.
The exam is being held by the PochiTama Pâtissière Academy, where the student must run two cafes in an effort to gain notoriety and be scouted by top chefs. There are also some efforts to bring media attention to the school through these efforts. The story gives the spotlight to each of the characters, but you won’t see any real growth in them until the last few scenes, if at all.
Luckily, the game’s narrative is easy to digest and almost charming. You are stuck trying to figure these characters out because they are so easy to read. It makes the entire story predictable, but I think readers know where it’s headed regardless. The most important choices that the player makes is whether they want to hang out with the dog girls or the catgirls, but I felt like they could have made these choices weigh more on the narrative. In the end, you just pick the girl that you want to hang out with, which typically leads to a romance scene.
The character routes all include romantic encounters resulting in much of the game’s CG events being H-scenes. However, a significant number of these appear before the heavier moments take over. Between these scenarios, the story unfolds. Given the size of the cast, the story really limits Kenta’s overall involvement with the narrative, and he mainly just lets the other characters take charge of the conversations. This makes it a little easier to relate to Kenta since he really doesn’t have that much of a personality.
Since each of the characters already knows Kenta, the story cleverly just has Kenta sit back while they explain some of their favorite memories with him. It’s romance ASMR, for the most part, considering the voice cast for the characters are so soft. Sure, you have generic character tropes within the group, but nothing overbearing or annoying.
The characters themselves are just so likable. I almost hate it because the writers play it incredibly safe with the story delivery and relationship building. There’s no real tension to be found or elements that hinder the in-game relationships. The only scary moments are when Kenta refers to the Rui as a kid, and everyone freaks out. On the other hand, even the comedy is just so basic that you may smirk once or twice, but nothing is significantly funny here.
What does stand out about WanNyan à la mode is the character art. Jeezus christ, these characters are just too damn cute, and that extends into their costumes, which for some reason, turn them into cats and dogs, leaving almost nothing to the imagination. The game also features some decent camera transitions and character placements along with animations for the tails.
Player interaction comes down to which girl you want to hang out with, and surprisingly you are even able to choose the teachers from the beginning. When the choice appears, I really had no idea which girl I liked more because the intro only puts the spotlight on a couple of characters; however, each route gives more clarity of the girl’s personality, but don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking.
WanNyan à la mode does a little more with its characters than a typical nukige, which gives it a layer of quality that you don’t normally see from this genre. I should mention that the story and the CG events are pretty vanilla and don’t feature anything too naughty.
WanNyan à la mode plays it incredibly safe with its character designs and narrative. The developer has done everything in there power to make this an easily digestible comedic romance without any roadblocks and nothing at stake. Where the game stands out is found in its quality presentation and transitions, which you don’t usually see in this genre.
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